Greta oto

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"Glasswing" redirects here. For the African glasswings, see Ornipholidotos. For the Australian glasswing, see Acraea andromacha.
Glasswinged butterfly
Greta oto.jpg
Scientific classification
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
Class: Insecta
Order: Lepidoptera
Family: Nymphalidae
Tribe: Ithomiini
Genus: Greta
Species: G. oto
Binomial name
Greta oto
William Chapman Hewitson, 1837

The Glasswinged butterfly (Greta oto) is a brush-footed butterfly, and is a member of the subfamily Danainae, tribe Ithomiini, subtribe Godyridina.[1][2]

G. oto adults also exhibit a number of interesting behaviors, such as long migrations and lekking among males.


The wings are transparent, with a span of 5.6 to 6.1 cm (2.2 to 2.4 in).[2] The butterfly's most common English name is glasswinged butterfly, and its Spanish name is "espejitos", which means "little mirrors". Indeed, the tissue between the veins of its wings looks like glass, as it lacks the colored scales found in other butterflies.[3] The opaque borders of its wings are dark brown, sometimes tinted with red or orange, and its body is dark in color.


Adults range from Mexico through Panama and Colombia[2] They also fly through Florida.


G. oto visits common flowers like lantana, but prefers to lay its eggs on plants of the tropical Solanaceae genus Cestrum.[2] The green caterpillars[4] feed on these toxic plants and are perhaps toxic to predators through secondary chemicals stored in their tissues; caterpillar chemical extracts are unpalatable to Paraponera clavata ants.[5] Adults are also assumed to be toxic,[6] but their toxicity results mainly from males feeding on flowers (e.g., Asteraceae) whose nectar contains pyrrolizidine alkaloids. These same alkaloids also are converted into pheromones by the males and used to attract females.


  1. ^ Lamas, G. (Ed.). (2004). Checklist: Part 4A. Hesperioidea - Papilionoidea. In: Heppner, J. B. (Ed.), Atlas of Neotropical Lepidoptera. Volume 5A. Gainesville, Association for Tropical Lepidoptera; Scientific Publishers.
  2. ^ a b c d Henderson, Carrol L. (2002). "Greta oto". Field guide to the Wildlife of Costa Rica. Austin, Texas: University of Texas Press. p. 56. ISBN 0-292-73459-X. OCLC 46959925. Retrieved 9 March 2009. 
  3. ^ Creation, Volume 30, No 4, page 56
  4. ^ Hill, S. K.. (1996). Behaviour and natural history of Greta oto in captivity (Lepidoptera: Nymphalidae: Ithomiinae), Tropical Lepidoptera, 7: 161-165.
  5. ^ Dyer, L. A. (1995). Tasty generalists and nasty specialists? Antipredator mechanisms in tropical lepidopteran larvae, Ecology, 76: 1483-1496.
  6. ^ Brown, K. S. (1984). Adult obtained pyrrolizidine alkaloids defend ithomiine butterflies against a spider predator, Nature, 309: 707-709.

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